Ukraine’s bomb-proof classrooms in underground bunkers as kids return to school

Children around the world are heading back to school this month and in Ukraine, millions of youngsters returned to the classroom this week.

But this school year is different, with teachers across the war-torn country welcoming pupils back into bomb-proof classrooms kitted out with desks, toys and blankets. For many, it was their first day back at school since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Schools that contain or are near a bomb shelter in the Kyiv, Lviv and Chernivtsi regions were among those reopening with parents having the option of remote learning or in-person teaching.

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Photos from inside one of the underground schools in Kyiv show a classroom complete with children's chairs and desks, books and stationery. There is even a circle area with carpet, soft cushions and toys.

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Another area has been lined with small chairs with individual stuffed animals placed on top, ready for the children to arrive. Meanwhile, colourful posters are dotted around the bunker – including one featuring a sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky joined pupils on their first day back to school in Irpin, Ukraine on Thursday.

The school was damaged by Russian forces in March but has now welcomed back 1,300 pupils. The school's basement has been turned into a shelter for students to use during air raids.

President Zelensky said: "We are working to ensure that every Ukrainian war-damaged educational institution resumed operations, and our children were safe and nothing prevented them from gaining knowledge."

At least 379 children have reportedly been killed since the war began while the location of hundreds more is unknown.

Last month, Ukraine's education minister claimed that Russian soldiers are torturing teachers and burning books in a bid to wipe out the Ukrainian curriculum in occupied territory.

The move is the latest attempt by Vladimir Putin’s invading forces to impose Russian culture and way of life on the areas his forces have seized since he launched the brutal invasion on his neighbour earlier this year.

Occupied areas of the Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions are due to hold “referendums” on annexation to the Russian Federation next month, but few observers believe they’ll be anything other than rigged votes.


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